What have acclaimed actor, Jimmy Nesbitt and Derry’s Walls got in common? Give up? They were both officially unveiled as ‘national treasures’ of Northern Ireland yesterday.
Nesbitt beat off world number one golfer Rory McIlroy in a public vote to be named NI’s favourite famous face.
Derry’s 400-year-old walls were named NI’s most iconic place ahead of the Giant’s Causeway and the Ulster Museum in Belfast in a survey which asked the general public to choose from a range of venues which had received National Lottery funding.
Both the actor and the walls were honoured at an event at the Verbal Arts Centre yesterday, where Nesbitt took time to meet students from the centre’s Journalism course and join in a session of the Reading Rooms – a literacy and literature project – with the local Rathmor 50+ community group.
“To win any award voted for by the public is an honour. I am very proud of my roots and where I come from,” Nesbitt told the Journal.
“But I am also very proud to be able to represent such a fantastic institution such as the Ulster University and my other charities Action Cancer and WAVE Trauma Centre, all of which have benefited from National Lottery funding.
“I am also delighted to see the Walls of Derry recognised too. My affinity to the city grew when I played the role of Ivan Cooper in ‘Bloody Sunday’. It is fitting this landmark, which has played such an important role in the city’s past, has its heritage preserved and protected for future generations.”
Meanwhile, the Holywell Trust in Derry, received £446,000 in National Lottery funding, via the Heritage Lottery Fund, for the City Walls Heritage Project to engage people with the heritage of the Walled City and ensuring they are valued, protected and cherished for years to come.